A solar-powered Swiss airplane arrived in China early Tuesday as part of the fifth leg of its round-the-world journey without any fuel.
The plane touched down in the southwestern city of Chongqing at 1:35 a.m. (1735 GMT Monday), 20 and a half hours after leaving Mandalay in Myanmar, French news agency AFP reported.
The carbon fiber single-seater Solar Impulse 2 has a 72-meter wingspan, which is longer than a Boeing 747′s wingspan, and weighs about as much as a car, according to a Voice of America report. The 17,000 solar cells on its wings harness the sun’s energy, allowing it to fly through the night.
“We are tired but we are still very, very happy to be in Chongqing,” said mission engineer Michael Anger on the mission website.
“In China it was demanding, this flight, especially for [pilot Bertrand Piccard] but also for the team preparing two flights in a row and then this afternoon canceling the second flight due to bad weather in Nanjing.”
The plane, which took 12 years to build, is the brainchild of Swiss scientists Piccard and Andre Borschberg.
“Solar Impulse wants to mobilize public enthusiasm in favor of technologies that will allow decreased dependence on fossil fuels, and induce positive emotions about renewable energies,” a statement on the mission website said.
The aircraft’s route includes stops in Oman, India, Myanmar and China. After crossing the Pacific Ocean via Hawaii, the plane will also make up to three stops in the United States, touching down in Phoenix, Arizona and New York City, and possibly another location depending on weather conditions, VOA said.
The final legs after crossing the Atlantic include a stopover in southern Europe or North Africa before arriving back in Abu Dhabi in late July or early August.
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